Rent is a Four Letter Word!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I wrote my blog article “Rent is a Four Letter Word!” for Army Wife Network below. I know many of my fellow army wives are heading for a move in these coming months. Please let my words of advice help you through the process of looking for a new home!

Originally published here

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Let’s face it. There are often long waiting lists to get the sweet spots on base. But maybe you just want something bigger or newer, and those pictures on craigslist are luring you in.

Before you PCS this season, take a moment to laugh read about some of my rental escapades and my invaluable tips that may possibly save your very sanity!

Don’t spend hours puttering around craigslist and real estate sites, endlessly obsessing over beautiful homes that take dogs and have a military discount. I understand that you want to get something lined up quickly and that you can’t just go visit that state on the other end of the map. You don’t want to spend weeks in hotels and would rather your belongings not be put into storage while you search for a home upon arrival.

I once made the mistake of renting a home that I hadn’t properly vetted in person, just strolled through on a virtual tour. Let me say there was *definitely* a wide angle lens involved. I ended up liking the neighborhood, but I think I could have bought something nicer for the price had I just waited and spent more time looking. Well, we were only there a year, live and learn.

Do contact the off-base housing referral section located within the Housing Office of your new assignment. You will also want to contact the temporary housing on base prior to your arrival for hotel reservations. These hotels are cheap so don’t expect anything fancy. And be sure to ask to take a peek at them before paying. You will likely be in your hotel for at least a week, scouting homes, so you may want to spend a few extra dollars on a bed a little more comfy. Besides the house itself, be sure to fully investigate the various rental areas, school districts, transit times, and last, but not least, the rental agency.

Not all rental agencies are created equal. While living near Fort Leonard Wood, I had a particularly bad experience with one. We had a crack in a sewage pipe under the house. After various plumbers came out to inspect it, one even putting his nose to a crack in the basement floor to sniff, like a dog, they finally decided to perform a smoke test. This involves setting off a smoke bomb in the pipes and looking to see where the smoke seeps out. The plumbers were expecting the smoke to come up through the cracks, proving there was a leak.

Well, the whole thing was a dud, nothing happened. One plumber said it was the first time he’d seen the test fail. Whatever. They were wasting my time and I was growing sick from the smell.

In the end the builder of the home came out, knew just what the problem was, because he’s the one who messed it up in construction after all, (no building codes around Fort Leonard Wood, buy homes at your own risk) and said the owner was made aware of the problem from the start and the rental agency should have contacted her. I couldn’t believe that the rental agency had questioned us on if we might have a dead animal inside one of our boxes in the basement. The agency never apologized after later learning there was actually a crack in the sewage pipe that was creating the ungodly smell. Good customer service will trump nice carpet when you are looking for a home. Call past residents if you can, and search online for any and all reviews you can find.

Finally, take a deep breath before your big move (perhaps take that yoga class you’ve been putting off, now is the time). And have fun on your new adventure!

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